Chicago Considers Adding Division I Football Program


Chicago State University is moving toward establishing a Division I football program and has formed a college committee to evaluate potential team creation.

The school announced the members of the committee at a press conference on Thursday. Included are former NFL players Howard Griffiths, Vaughan Bryant, Tom Thayer and Otis Wilson, as well as Chicago high school football coaches, community leaders and school officials.

The commission should issue recommendations this spring on the future of speculative football programs, said CSU athletic director Monique Carroll.

“If that’s convenient, we’ll be looking at Chicago’s only Division I program here on the South Side,” Carroll said. “We could start playing football as early as the fall of 2025.”

The university has already conducted a feasibility study on the prospects of a football program, and the review committee is now “the next step,” Carroll said. The committee will also consider adding new women’s sports teams.

Various questions about the potential football program remain unanswered.It is unclear how the teams will be paid or where they will play matches. But when football helmets with green cougar stickers were placed in front of school officials, marching bands held press conferences to brassy tunes, and muscular mascots danced, school leaders Clearly optimistic that the program would become a reality.

“I think the important job of the committee is to see and see what the roadmap is and what steps need to be taken,” Carroll said. “Fall of ’24, ’25, ’26? To really come up with actionable items and timetables.”

She also acknowledged that the committee may decide that the program should not go forward.

The public university in the Far South Side’s Roseland area is the only federally designated predominantly black four-year university in Illinois. The school has at times struggled with high-profile lawsuits and declining enrollment over the past decade, including admitting just 86 freshmen in the fall of 2016. .

Overall enrollment fell 2.1% in 2022, with 2,296 students enrolling in the fall, according to a university news release.

The possible football program is “part of our ongoing efforts to improve the quality of student life, make Chicago State University a more attractive destination for freshmen, and contribute to the continued economic development of our community.” said Scott.

Former NFL player Howard Griffiths spoke at a press conference held at Chicago State University on January 26, 2023, announcing that the university would be considering a Division I football team.

The college operates seven men’s and eight women’s Division I sports programs. The Cougars left the Western Athletic Conference in June, but Carroll said he expects the university to join the new conference next year.

The college baseball team was cut two years ago, which Carroll attributed to economic uncertainty during the pandemic. But the school has since added a men’s soccer team, she added.Carroll said she was confident the school would be able to set up the team financially, saying college football she said the team would normally earn added that it is raising

When asked if any future football team would play at Soldier Field while the Chicago Bears were planning to leave the stadium and move to a new one in Arlington Heights, Scott responded with a laugh. rice field.

The team plans to compete in the Football Championship subdivision, the second level of NCAA Division I football, a school spokesperson said.

“Hopefully at the end of this committee, we can move this football program forward,” said Griffiths, a two-time Super Bowl champion from the South Side. “You can bring so many people into your program. It can have a very significant impact on our community.”

Griffiths said the committee’s recommendations will ultimately be passed on to university leaders who will make the final decisions.The committee needs to take its time to formulate thoughtful recommendations, he added. .

Griffiths said the new team could be an investment in Southside and its youth.

“People don’t necessarily need to play in the NBA or NFL or continue to play professional sports, they need the opportunity to get an education,” he said.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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